Robert William Hoskins (26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014) was an English actor. His work included lead roles in Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mermaids (1990), and Super Mario Bros. (1993), and supporting performances in Brazil (1985), Hook (1991), Nixon (1995), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), A Christmas Carol (2009), Made in Dagenham (2010), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He also directed two feature films.
Hoskins received the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his role in Mona Lisa. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the same role. In 2009, Hoskins won an International Emmy Award for Best Actor for his appearance on the BBC One drama The Street. In 2012, Hoskins retired from acting due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, and he died from pneumonia on 29 April 2014, at age 71.
Hoskins was born in Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, on 26 October 1942 to Robert Hoskins, a bookkeeper and lorry driver, and Elsie (née Hopkins) Hoskins, a cook and nursery school teacher. His grandmother was a Romani. From two weeks old, he was brought up in Finsbury Park, London. He left school at the age of 15 with a single O-Level and worked as a porter, lorry driver, and window cleaner. He started on a 3-year accountancy course but dropped out.
In 1968, Hoskins' acting career began at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. He portrayed a servant named Peter in a production of Romeo and Juliet. In 1969, he worked at the Unity Theatre in London, England. One evening, he was waiting in the Unity Theatre bar for his friend, the actor Roger Frost, to finish an audition. Whilst drinking at the bar, he was given a script and told, "You're next." He got the part, with Frost ending up his understudy. Frost recalled, "Bob was a natural. He just got up on stage and was brilliant."
His first major television role was in On the Move (1975-6), an educational series intended to tackle adult illiteracy, in which he portrayed Alf Hunt, a removal man who had problems reading and writing. According to eventual producer George Auckland, up to 17 million people watched the series. Hoskins' breakthrough television role came in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter's innovative 6-part fantasy-drama Pennies from Heaven (1978) as adulterous sheet music salesman Arthur Parker. Later, he portrayed Iago in Jonathan Miller's BBC Television Shakespeare production of Othello.
Hoskins' performances in British films, such as The Long Good Friday (1980) and Mona Lisa (1986), won him the wider approval of the critics and, in the case of the latter, a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He also delivered comic turns in Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) and as Mario in Super Mario Bros. (1993). In 2007, Hoskins told The Guardian that he regretted starring in Super Mario Bros., stating that he was extremely unhappy with the film and greatly angered by his experiences making it, referring to it as the "worst thing I ever did". In 1983, Hoskins' voice was used in an advert for Weetabix and during the late 1980s and early 1990s, he appeared in advertising for the recently privatized companies of British Gas and British Telecom (now BT Group).
He had a small role as Pink Floyd's manager in The Wall. He was slated to be a last-minute replacement in The Untouchables if Robert De Niro had not decided to portray Al Capone. When De Niro took the part, director Brian De Palma mailed Hoskins a cheque for £20,000 with a "Thank You" note, which prompted him to call up De Palma and ask him if there were any more films he did not want him to be in.
In 1988, Hoskins played private investigator Eddie Valiant in the Disney, Touchstone, and Amblin Entertainment live-action/animated family blockbuster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Hoskins was not the first choice for the role; Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy were all considered for the part, but film critics agreed that Hoskins was perfect for the role, the most prominent among them being Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. As Hoskins' character interacts and makes physical contact with animated characters in the film, Hoskins was required to take mime training courses in preparation, and after shooting ended, he suffered from hallucinations for months afterward. Hoskins was nominated for a Golden Globe award for this performance and won a British Evening Standard award.
Some of Hoskins' other work include playing opposite Cher in Mermaids (1990), portraying Smee in Hook (1991) and in Neverland (2011), and playing Uncle Bart, the psychopathic and violent "owner" of Jet Li in Unleashed aka Danny The Dog. He returned to television in productions for the BBC, including Flickers, David Copperfield as Wilkins Micawber (1999), and The Wind in the Willows (2006). He portrayed Nikita Khrushchev as a political commissar in Enemy at the Gates (2001). Hoskins received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Mrs Henderson Presents, a film he also produced with Norma Heyman. In 2007, Hoskins appeared in the music video for Jamie T's single "Sheila".
Hoskins also directed two films, both of which he starred in; The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1996). In 2009, he made a return to television in Jimmy McGovern's drama serial The Street, where he played a publican who stands up to a local gangster. For this role, he received his only Emmy when he won Best Actor at the 2010 International Emmys. In 2011, In Search of La Che featured a character named Wermit and every line of his dialogue was a quote of Bob Hoskins.
Hoskins' father was a communist and brought up Hoskins to be an atheist. In 1967, aged 25, Hoskins spent a short period of time volunteering in kibbutz Zikim in Israel, and also herded camels in Syria. In an interview, when asked what he owed his parents, he said, "Confidence. My mum used to say to me, 'If somebody doesn't like you, fuck 'em, they've got bad taste.'" When asked which living person he most despised, Hoskins named Tony Blair and claimed that "he's done even more damage than Thatcher". He made light of his similarities with film actor Danny DeVito, whom he joked would play him in a film about his life.
With his first wife Jane Livesey, Hoskins had two children named Alex (born 1968) and Sarah (born 1972). With his second wife Linda Banwell, he had two more children named Rosa (born c. 1983) and Jack (born c. 1986).
Illness and death
In August 2012, Hoskins retired from acting due to being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.
After his death, Robert Zemeckis, the director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, released a statement saying that Hoskins brought enjoyment to audiences worldwide. Among the actors who paid tribute at his funeral were Stephen Fry, Samuel L. Jackson, and Helen Mirren, who said that "London will miss one of her best and most loving sons".
On the second anniversary of his death, as a tribute to Hoskins, some Twitter users posted links to articles about his death. This led to some confusion, as others believed he had just died. There was then a flood of tributes to him on social media.
|Play for Today||Taxi driver||Episode: "The Bankrupt"|
|New Scotland Yard||Eddie Wharton|
|Softly, Softly: Taskforce||Parker|
|Play for Today||Woodbine||Episode: "Her Majesty's Pleasure"|
|1974||Shoulder to Shoulder||Jack Dunn|
|Thick as Thieves||Dobbs|
|Play for Today||Blake||Episode: "Schmoedipus"|
|1975||On the Move||Alf|
|The Crezz||Detective Sergeant Marble|
|1977||Van der Valk||Johnny Palmer|
|Rock Follies of '77||Johnny Britten|
|1978||Pennies from Heaven||Arthur Parker||Nominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor|
|1979||Of Mycenae and Men||Mr. Taramasalatopoulos|
|1983||The Beggar's Opera||Beggar|
|1985||Mussolini and I||Benito Mussolini|
|1985||The Dunera Boys||Morrie Mendellsohn||Australian mini-series|
|1994||The Changeling||De Flores|
|World War II: When Lions Roared||Winston Churchill|
|1995–1999||The Forgotten Toys||Teddy||Voice only|
|1996||Tales from the Crypt|
|1998||Saturday Night Live||Himself|
|1999||David Copperfield||Wilkins Micawber|
|2000||Noriega: God's Favorite||Manuel Noriega||Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film|
|Don Quixote||Sancho Panza|
|2001||The Lost World||Professor George Challenger|
|The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII||Angelo Roncalli / Pope John XXIII|
|2008||The Englishman's Boy||Damon Ira Chance|
|The Last Word Monologues||unnamed hitman||Episode: "A Bit of Private Business"|
|2009||The Street||Paddy Gargan||International Emmy Award for best actor|